At 5pm on Christmas Day, Olivia O’Leary presents an hour-long festive Poetry Programme on RTÉ Radio 1, produced in association with Poetry Ireland and recorded in the magnificent ballroom of Farmleigh House, the official Irish State guest house managed by the Office of Public Works.
Olivia’s guests are poets Colette Bryce and Billy Ramsell, psychologist Ian Robertson, and actors Andrew Bennett and Cathy Belton, while music is provided by singer Eimear Quinn and guitarist Robbie Overson.
Here’s a flavour of the show:
Derry-born poet Colette Bryce recalls getting up extra early on Christmas morning to redistribute (to her own advantage) the presents left for nine children in the sitting-room. She reads her poem Woman and Turkey, the first poem she ever published, which compares the clammy skin of the turkey to touching a dead bishop. Not for the faint-hearted!
Cork poet Billy Ramsell recalls spotting an otter in the River Lee on Christmas Day, and celebrates the Christmas goodwill he and his wife experienced on their first Christmas in their new house.
Glasgow-born psychologist Ian Robertson is the perfect choice to deliver a powerful reading of the poem Trio by the former Scottish National Poet Edwin Morgan.
Actors Cathy Belton and Andrew Bennett read a selection of Christmas-related poems, including six that remember poets we have lost over the past year: Matthew Sweeney, Richard Murphy, Macdara Woods, Philip Casey, Liam Ó Muirthile and Marie Cadden.
Eimear Quinn, accompanied by guitarist Robbie Overson, sings Winter, Fire and Snow, Brendan Graham’s setting of a Macdara Woods poem, thrilling the audience with her pure voice.
If you didn’t make it to the live performance – or even if you did – the programme will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 at 5 pm on Christmas Day and will be available to listen to on the RTÉ Radio Player or via the Poetry Programme website.
Photos: Tristan Hutchinson